Four more historians have come out against Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Reagan, saying that it contains “small and large mistakes throughout” the text.
Bill O’Reilly dismissed early criticism of Killing Reagan as attacks by zealots, according to Raw Story.
“My books on Lincoln, Kennedy, Jesus, and Patton were all attacked by zealots and jealous people,” O’Reilly said on his Fox News program The O’Reilly Factor. “And their garbage didn’t work.”
The Fox News pundit has also insisted that criticism of Killing Reagan is aimed at denigrating President Reagan’s personal story, rather than the factual accuracy of the book itself.
“Killing Reagan is a book that tells the truth. It accurately portrays Reagan’s incredible journey from a flawed, shallow man to a courageous, brave man. Why anybody who respects President Reagan would want to denigrate that story is a mystery.”
In a recent Washington Post opinion piece, four historians came together to point out a number of factual inaccuracies in Killing Reagan.
Salon reports that, between them, the four co-authors of the Washington Post piece have penned 19 books on President Reagan, so it’s quite possible that they know what they’re talking about.
According to the Reagan historians who collaborated on the Washington Post piece, Killing Reagan “restates old claims and rumors, virtually all of which have been discredited by the historical record.”
The authors also take O’Reilly to task for the lack of endnotes or a bibliography in Killing Reagan. Instead, the book has a handful of footnotes and a short “sources” section.
Some of the small mistakes in Killing Reagan, according to the four historians, include referring to Ronald Prescott Reagan as Ron Jr. and a statement that Reagan’s late-1970s radio broadcasts were only once a week when they were actually five times each week.
Killing Reagan is also accused of painting Reagan as “addle-brained, out of touch, and dangerously uninformed,” which is a stereotype that modern scholarship has done away with.
Other larger errors include the idea that Reagan was nearly removed from office after the failed assassination attempt by John Hinkley Jr.
The authors of the Washington Post piece also took issue with the way that O’Reilly portrayed Reagan as a promiscuous womanizer, both between marriages and early in his marriage to Nancy.
O’Reilly defended the accusations of Reagan’s womanizing in an interview with the Daily Caller, saying, “We double-sourced everything with names. We didn’t use any blind sources at all. And it’s all in the book, in the back of the book, where it came from.”
However, the four Reagan experts deny that Killing Reagan has proper sourcing or attribution on that or any other subject in the book.
“There is no citation in the back of the book. If the source for that section is in the back of the book, then it could be Kitty Kelley, because these are the kind of claims she has made. The book itself does not make the source clear. This kind of shocking material must be clearly sourced.”
You can view a short video of seven mistakes in Killing Reagan, and refutations of those mistakes, below.
Between them, Craig Shirley, Kiron K. Skinner, Paul Kengor and Steven F. Hayward, the authors of the Washington Post piece, have some serious credentials.
Shirley was hailed as “the best of the Reagan biographers” by the London Telegraph, and Skinner worked on campaigns for George W. Bush, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney campaigns in addition to authoring two books about President Reagan.
Bill O’Reilly may have dismissed prior criticism of Killing Reagan as attacks by zealots, but can the same be said of these four?
[Photo credit: Hulton Archive, Rob Kim/Getty Images Entertainment]